Ukraine officers inspect missile remnants
Police officers inspect the remains of a missile that fell in the street in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 24, 2022.Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters
  • Global financial markets were rocked Thursday as Russian forces invaded Ukraine. 
  • Stocks plummeted, while oil hit $100 and gold soared as investors sought out safe havens.
  • Here's what market strategists are saying about what it means and what investors should expect.

Russian forces invaded Ukraine early Thursday, in a massive widespread assault seen as the largest military operation in Europe since World War II. 

Global stocks plummeted in the wake of the news, while gold soared to its highest level in 13 months as investors sought out safe havens to weather the crisis.

Oil surged to $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014, inflaming worries that knock-on rises in energy prices would spur already red-hot inflation — and prompt the Federal Reserve to change its plans for interest-rate hikes.

Here's what market strategists are saying about what this means and what investors can expect.

Global stocks nosedive

"When we benchmark changes in equity prices with global PMIs, and cyclical versus defensive equities, again versus PMIs, it would appear that some moderation in growth has already been priced; we think it would take a much sharper fall in growth than we expect from this crisis to derail the bull market entirely." — Goldman Sachs strategists.

"Question for you stock pickers and traders: When do the moves look overdone; when do you start nibbling away at some bargains? There is considerable pressure on all risk assets and the broad capitulation will inevitably lead to some babies being thrown out with the bath water."  — Neil Wilson, chief markets analyst,

"Investor sentiment was already fragile because of rising inflation and the upwards direction of travel for interest rates, but confirmation of war and the associated alarming news headlines around the world are likely to see equity markets go through a difficult period for longer than people might have previously expected." — Russ Mould, investment director, AJ Bell.

History shows "the market reaction to these events can be surprisingly mild. Most dips end up being bought, so medium-term buyers can often find good value in these bleak times." — Giles Coghlan, chief analyst, HYCM.

Surging oil prices to drive inflation 

"The surge in the oil price is terrible news for businesses and consumers, and fundamentally this clarifies one of the key impacts of the Russia/Ukraine war – it will serve to further stoke inflation." — AJ Bell's Mould.

"Headline U.S. inflation will be a bit higher, for a bit longer, than our pre-invasion forecasts, but the big picture is little changed. We expect no knee-jerk Fed response," — Ian Shepherdson, chief economist, Pantheon.

"The current situation is different from past episodes when geopolitical events led the Fed to delay tightening or ease, because inflation risk has created a stronger and more urgent reason for the Fed to tighten today than existed in past episodes." — Goldman Sachs strategists.

"This takes 50 basis points completely off the table. It takes the eight, nine hikes that a lot of people were talking about for this year off the table, and thankfully so." — Economist Mohamed El-Erian, to CNBC.

Gold rises as investors look for a safe haven

"Gold is coming back into its own as a haven asset and I do not rule out new all-time highs in prices in the weeks ahead." — Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Oanda.

"Gold and silver are likely to remain in demand with bonds struggling to provide the usual safe haven as this conflict comes with even higher inflation as a product." — Ole Hansen, strategist, Saxo Bank.

Bitcoin and cryptos slide

"In recent years we've heard people argue that bitcoin is the new 'safe-haven'. However, it certainly hasn't displayed any signs of being a store of value during the current crisis." — AJ Bell's Mould.

"If the situation in Ukraine escalates further, which seems inevitable, there is every chance we could see bitcoin trading back below $30,000 once again as investors seek safe-haven assets." — Walid Koudmani, chief market analyst, XTB.

Read more: Russia just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Investors should take these 5 steps to protect their portfolios, according to UBS

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